On paper Thea did the charity side of things, too.
The part where people within Cornucopia Ltd wanted to invest in one charity or another so they forwarded it all to them—her—and the fund did the legwork to determine whether or not the charity was up to snuff.
To date the worst charity—and coincidentally the only one Thea had actually had to get involved in severing themselves from—was a library organization in Nicaragua. If it’d only distributed books it would have been lovely.
Cobalt Grove Rehabilitation Center had knocked that little monster off the 'only' list.
Someone had forwarded Cobalt Grove to the fund because a personal friend was involved with the place, and had asked for a donation, and the member involved thought something just didn’t feel right. On paper that was woefully little information, but Alice had gotten just as good at picking the horrors out of the pile as Thea had over the years. She’d looked at that message, and flagged it for Thea.
Thea had looked at it and booked herself a flight to the trendy southern California spa-slash-retreat.
She’d stumbled on Detective Hal Stone trying to quietly survey the facility. The middle aged police detective was tired of trying to get people to talk to him about these girls, and he'd taken a chance on Thea. Especially when she'd seemed inclined to believe him that there was a problem. When she hadn't assured him they were all addicts. They’d just left the treatment program.
“So what exactly is your involvement in this?” Stone asked, for probably the fifth time, dumping half a bottle of some local red sauce over his taco-like thing. She hadn’t really paid attention. He had an old school detective name, and apparently the way he tripped people up was to just keep asking the same question over and over again.
She liked him, and she wasn’t sure if that was because he was getting soft, or she was.
“I don’t have one.” Thea wiped her hands on the paper napkin and met his gaze. He’d insisted she needed to eat just as much as he did, and the dining room at the center was going to poison one of them. She’d been a little inclined to agree. “The organization I represent offers a service to our members where-in we…vet charitable organizations if they’d like to donate to them. Someone with Cobalt Grove asked them for a donation.”
He snorted. “Asked them in such a way the company fixer dropped out of the sky on them.”
Thea couldn’t help her cold smile. A week on, if she could just burn Cobalt to the ground—without anyone in it, obviously—she might. There was no clean way this ended. She could keep it from touching them, the member in question hadn’t donated anything yet so there was no real connection. It was becoming increasingly likely that no matter how they shut down Cobalt Grove, the masterminds behind it were going to get away.
“If I could just find the money,” Stone muttered.
Thea’d leave him a card, and take one of his. He was years from retirement, and she obviously wasn’t going to stop looking. There were three young women--that they knew off--who'd checked into Cobalt Grove and just disappeared into smoke.
One was understandable. Two was unusual, but possible. Three was a pattern.
“Well, I hope you’ll tell the people with your fund not to invest here.”
Thea cocked a brow at him. “Did you imagine I hadn’t already?”
He watched her, crinkled gray eyes in the California sunset. “No, Ma’am. I imagine you did that before you even got here. I did think about asking why you came.”
He laughed softly, and crumpled his trash. “You wouldn’t tell me.”
Cobalt Grove Rehabilitation Center folded by the end of the week, and Thea added it to the file Alice called “Not Over Yet.”
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